Tile Roofs: the 3 damaging factors of the sun, wind and rain

Tile Roofs: the 3 damaging factors of the sun, wind and rain

A concrete tile roof is often referred to as a “50 year roof”. They can last a very long time. But they are not maintenance free. Periodic maintenance needs to be performed to keep the roof in a sound and leak-free condition.

Vegas’ extreme heat, high winds and monsoon rains impact the home exterior and subsequent maintenance of the roof of a home. Many people believe tile roofs in Las Vegas last 50+ years.

This is true for the tile but there are other components of a roof that don’t easily withstand the natural elements of the desert: the paper underlayment (or felt) and plywood.

  • Cracked tiles are a common occurrence.
  • Concrete tiles do not repel water.
  • Concrete tiles protect the felt.
  • The felt provides the watertight integrity for the roof.

The concept of tile roof maintenance is wise to grasp if you own a rental property in Las Vegas or Henderson as it could help extend the roofs overall life. Most roofs in Vegas consist of tiles, a paper underlayment and plywood as the main components.

The tile, mastic, paint and sealant placed around the tiles, hip and joints protect the paper underlayment and plywood.

Henderson tile roof
Las Vegas tile Roof Maintenance

General Tile Roof Maintenance

What does roof maintenance consist of?

  1. Replace all broken tile on entire roof to match as close as possible.
  2. Any tile that is slipped out of place, put back and secure properly.
  3. Apply silicone on corners that are chipped. Chipped corners are not considered broken tiles.
  4. Apply mastic and paint on all hips and joints.
  5. Seal all pipe jacks as needed and paint to match.
  6. Clean roof and valleys of all debris.

Damaged Tiles

The most common cause for damage to concrete tile roofing is the wind. The wind gets under the tiles causing them to shudder, shimmy, chip, and crack. Sometimes the wind can even move the tiles out of proper position.

The majority of the roof tiles (the field tiles) are held in place with only one nail.

What most people fail to understand is that concrete tiles do very little (if anything) to keep moisture out of the home. In fact they’re not water tight at all. The primary purpose of concrete tiles is to protect the tar.

Roll of Felt paper or “felt”, as it is known in the building industry, is located under the tiles and *does* repel water. The felt is petroleum impregnated which is why it repels water. Oil and water do not mix.

Tiles don’t do much to keep the water out of the structure. Their purpose is to protect the felt.

Note: When addressing cracked tiles it is important to understand that unless a concrete tile is cracked more than 25% of the face of the tile then the tile does not require replacement. It can be repaired with a cement epoxy.

If tile replacement is necessary the contractor will attempt to match the color as closely as possible but an exact match is often not possible. In fact, the Nevada State Contractors Board allows for up to 10% of the tiles to have differing colorations. 

Protecting The Felt

Without the concrete tiles installed over the felt, the felt would be exposed to direct sunlight. Direct sunlight carries strong ultraviolet rays. UV rays cause the petroleum in the felt to evaporate.

When the felt dries out from prolonged exposure to UV rays the felt then loses its ability to repel water and the potential for a leak is high. Concrete tiles protect the felt from the damaging ultraviolet rays and also act as an insulator.

Other things to consider...

The roof has penetrations installed. There are areas of the roof where vent pipes for plumbing, the furnace, the water heater, bathroom and laundry room fans penetrate the roof.

These penetrations are sealed with mineral flashing. Mineral flashing is a “goopy” viscous product that is applied at the base of the penetrations. Mineral flashing is petroleum impregnated and repels water – just like felt.

The mineral flashing is often exposed to direct ultraviolet rays from the sun. It needs to be renewed periodically. Painting the mineral flashing once it has dried will protect it from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and reduce the periodicity for this normal recurring maintenance issue.

What is a "Tile Reroof"?

A tile reroof may be recommended based on the age of home and if the paper underlayment has exceeded its life and is badly degraded. A “reroof” consists of the following:

  • Remove existing tiles and stack
  • Remove existing battens and haul away
  • Strip existing felt down to plywood sheathing and remove from site (some roofers only partially remove the original layer)
  • Replace any degraded plywood
  • Install two layers of 30lb felt over existing felt to completion
  • Install new drip edge and new bird stop around perimeter of roof
  • Re-install existing tiles over new battens and new underlayment to completion
  • Replace any broken tiles with new tiles
  • Re-flash all vents and pipes where applicable
  • Supply and install new hip and ridge enclosure

Builders back in the day typically only installed 1 underlayment layer. A reroof consists of 2 underlayment layers of 30lb felt over the plywood. We use both Vegas Born Roofing and Desert Valley Roofing for repairs and reroofs.

IMG 1546
Photo of degraded paper underlayment and degraded plywood under a tile roof

What's the cost of a tile Reroof?

Depending on the sq.ft. of a home’s roof a reroof can be anywhere from $7k to $25k+. For example, a 1,000 sq.ft. home would be on the lower cost end as the sq.ft. of the home is so small. A single story home that is 4,000 sq.ft. may cost upwards of $25k.

Wood Fascia

In basic terms fascia is a wood trim just below the roof line. In Vegas the wood fascia is painted to help protect it from the natural elements. Over time the paint on the fascia will degrade and need to be repainted.

Below is an example of a wood fascia trim that needs painting. Cost can range from $800 to $1,800+ depending on the size of the home. 

If wood fascia becomes too degraded it will need to be replaced at a cost of $20/foot. Maintenance is key and keeping the wood fascia covered in paint will help protect it from the natural desert elements of sun, wind and rain.

home exterior degraded wood fascia needs paint

Be informed & knowledgeable about tile roofs.

The severe sun, wind and rain can impact the exterior elements of a home in Las Vegas (roofs, wood fascia, exterior paint/stucco, windows, landscaping, etc.).

It’s wise to be familiar with these types of home exterior maintenance items to ensure your investment property is well maintained throughout the course of homeownership.